I don’t have a tiny one anymore, but looking back, I wish I had taken the leap and used cloth diapers with my Emma. There are a ton of reasons that a new mom might want to cloth diaper including reducing waste in landfills, limiting chemicals our babies are exposed to and of course, saving money. The thing is though that there is so much debate on whether using cloth diapers actually can save you money over disposables. Just like anything though, cloth diapering can be as expensive or cost efficient as you make it. Of course, you don’t want to spend your money on something if it isn’t going to be worth it, right?
This leads to an awful lot of new parents, especially those who will be raising a baby on a low income to ask one single question. Can cloth diapers really save me money?
First, let’s be clear about something. Raising babies is expensive. That’s why so many of us jump when we see things like over $1,000 in free baby samples. We need to save as much money as possible! But…I’m sure you already knew that but over the course of your child’s life, you will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on them. If you’re trying to raise a baby on a low income, then I highly suggest that you take a look at our 8 Frugal Ways to Prepare for Baby post. It can help you get ready for baby in ways that this post can not.
Can Cloth Diapers Really Save Me Money?
Making the decision of whether you want to use cloth diapers or disposable is only one of the things you’ll want to do to get ready for your baby. You’ll want to boost your savings account anyway that you can, you’ll want to make extra money where you can and you’ll also want to take a look at what you can stop buying and make at home so that your little one has a safe environment away from as many chemicals as possible. Cloth diapers do have some distinct advantages over disposable so I wanted to talk about a few of them. At the end, once you have the info, it really does come down to what you’re comfortable using and what you’re not. I’m more than sure that there are more things that you can compare aside from the three reasons below, but for me, these are the biggest pros for using cloth diapers to save money.
Cloth diapers grow with your baby –
Cloth diapers come in a variety of styles and sizes so that they’re able to grow right along side of your baby. In fact, there are several cloth diaper brands that carry one-sized cloth diapers that fit babies from 8 to 30 plus pounds. That’s basically from birth to potty training for the vast majority of kids. If you choose this option you eliminate the need to buy different sizes as your child grows. No need to worry about diaper boxes that include fewer diapers as the sizes get larger, as is the case with disposables. Instead, you spend a few dollars on each diaper up front and that’s it for the cost of supplies as they grow.
Cloth diapers have a good resale value –
In good condition cloth diapers can retain about half of their original value meaning that you can easily get back part of your initial investment. Websites such as Cloth Diaper Trader allow moms to sell cloth diapers they no longer need with no posting fees. There are also several Facebook pages and groups that allow users to buy, sell and trade their used diapers and some cloth diaper stores will buy back diapers as well for their ‘gently used’ racks.
Cloth diapers can last through more than one child –
According Consumer Reports, parents spend about $2,500 on disposable diapers per child from birth until they are potty trained. On the other hand, once you build a stash of cloth diapers they can be reused when the next baby comes along. A full stash should consist of at least 2 dozen or more diapers. Let’s say you spend $500 dollars on cloth diapers for the first 2 ½ to 3 years before your child potty trains. This pales in comparison to how much you would spend on disposable diapers for a year. When baby #2 is born you already have diapers ready to go and haven’t had to spend a dime.
Now with those three things pointed out, I also want to point out a few other things. First, cloth diapers do have an added laundry expense. Assuming you’re washing your diapers every other day, that adds up to an additional 3-4 extra loads of laundry per week. With that comes extra water useage, extra wear and tear on your washer and extra detergent costs. You can however cut the detergent cost by using a homemade laundry detergent recipe made with Ivory soap or Castille soap (or make your own homemade Castile soap) so that it is baby safe. Drying costs shouldn’t factor in since most cloth diaper manufacturers recommend that they air dry to keep them in their best condition.
In addition to that, you do have a heftier out of pocket expense at first so some families may not be able to handle the cost. To help lessen this cost, you could buy your cloth diapers used or request that people who are buying gifts (Six Dollar Family) only buy cloth diapers. In addition to the diaper cost, you’ll also want to look at getting a cloth diaper pail and possibly a diaper pail insert to keep smell down and make cleaning the diapers easier. For diapering supplies that aren’t specifically diaper related, you can make a lot of those items yourself to save money. Making a homemade diaper rash cream can help you save $25 or more each year depending on how often your child gets diaper rash. Homemade products, when made correctly, typically work just as well or better than commercial products at a fraction of the cost.
In the end, only you can decide whether using cloth diapers will actually save you money. You know your budget better than I do. They don’t have to be super expensive to use, but each family will be able to afford different things. Make sure that you have the money in your budget before you make the decision and you’ll be good to go.